Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino
Discover How to Be Your Best
Kristin Whittlesey Stolte

Principal at Linton Elementary, Ft. Collins, Colorado

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. ~Henry Adams

Everyone has “The One” ... the one teacher who you will remember forever. The one who helped you through that rough time in your life, taught you better ways to study for tests, or simply made you feel special. Maybe they made math seem easy, always asked about your family, or just helped you to love school.

I was fortunate to have many in my life. Mrs. McNamara made class so much fun that we laughed all day WHILE learning. Mr. Dielman boosted my confidence in a big way. He took the time to read our compositions to the class, and complimented us in front of our peers. I looked forward to his class because he made me feel like I had lots of talent. Dr. Perdue came to me as a teacher, and asked if I had ever thought of going into administration. He went on to praise my leadership skills and encouraged me to start the program at Western Illinois. To this day, I may not remember specifically what each of these three educators said to me, but I can sure tell you how they made me feel.
Who is your “One”?

As a teacher, I knew that, “Kids don't care what you know until they know that you care”. My mission was to build a relationship with each child first….then watch how they bloom in a classroom filled with high expectations and support. Children are not born thinking they can't do or achieve something in life. Somewhere along the way they learn, or unfortunately are told, that they don't have what it takes to do certain things. Hopefully they come in contact with MORE people who do just the opposite. Instill in them that they CAN, they HAVE what it takes, and they WILL DO great things. My hope is that I connected with all my students, but might I have been “The One” for…….

* Darren: who did not have a mom and often slipped and called me “Mom” instead of “Mrs. Stolte”.I considered that a great compliment.

* Kari: who would cry when she had to go home everyday. Kari finally trusted me enough to tell me why….and we were able to get her the help that she needed.

* Isaiah: who would soar with a different explanation and an extra dose of, “YOU can do this!” Isaiah will do great things in life.

* Leah … who had a goal at age 9 that surpasses many adult goals. I was honored to help support. She is a hero. (Read more about Leah)

* And my Sarah ... learning can be tricky for her and she gives 100% each day.....all with a smile.

I believe great principals are just great teachers who happen to have a bigger office. I still strive to be “The One” for as many students as possible. I value the times I work with students in classrooms. My desk has an autograph book that students sign when they are “Sent to the Principal” to show me something they worked very hard on. I tell my students, “When you are a rich and famous (insert what they inspire to do) don't forget to come see your favorite Principal!” What a great day that will be. My original mission is the same…..I just have 500 instead of 25….and wonderful adults (teachers and student teachers) to add as well. I can't imagine a career I could love more.

My challenge for you is two fold: First, take a moment this month to connect with that teacher who made such a difference for you. I bet they have thought about you……and know they would be touched to hear how they made such a difference in your life. Second, BE “The One”. With your own child, a neighbor child, or through an organization like Big Brother/Big Sisters. You do not have to be in education to make a difference in the life of a child. All children need a handful of positive adult role models in their life.
BE “The One”.

"Connect. Teach. Praise. Inspire."

Kristin Whittlesey Stolte has been an educator for 18 years in Iowa, Minnesota, and Colorado. She is now the Principal at Linton Elementary in Ft. Collins, Colorado.